Friday, 2 November 2012

B & S armature construction- part 3

I am pleased to say that I can now finally progress with the construction of my armature. It has taken me a while to create a scale diagram of my puppet, from which the armature and sculpted model will be created, for I was unable to find any reference images of Gollum in the correct ‘T’ position online. As a result, I used elements from a wide range of references to piece together an accurate, scale matte painting of the character, to match the size of my planned ball and socket joints. This was no small task. I also needed to consider him from a side profile view.

I will get my designs printed to scale on A3 paper, providing me with an actual-size image to work from. I can measure the diagram directly to obtain the measurements I require for my armature.

As you can see below, the drilling master jig mentioned in my previous write-up has been completed, and put to effective use. It is indeed an incredibly useful tool in aligning the drill bit perfectly, ensuring that all brackets I create are as identical as possible. It also saves a great deal of time in eliminating the need to manually mark out precise holes and dimensions for drilling on each piece.

The mild steel strip I intended to drill was placed in a clamp underneath the jig, and atop a spare piece of wood, with the ends aligned flush. The clamp was moved into position, and the set-up was checked to ensure the drill would fit snugly into the master holes before switching the machine on.

With the holes drilled, the grinder was used to round off the corners. The 5mm wide bracket then had to be cut from the longer strip with a saw, and quenched in water for it became quite hot as a result. The remaining square corners were manually filed round.

With the first top bracket completed, the process was repeated for the bottom bracket (which needs a smaller, tapped central hole for the screw to tighten). The difference with the latter was that a smaller drill was used for the middle hole, followed by an M3 tap to create the inner thread, by which the whole joint was to be assembled.

The brackets were tested with a pair of brass beads in place, and I am pleased to say that they work great! In the end, I decided to use M3 pozi-drive screws as opposed to the M3 cap screws purchased previously, for the head is narrower and saves me space- allowing the puppet to be smaller. Tightening and loosening the screw with a screwdriver proved no problem, and restricts/aids the beads’ movement respectively as desired.

In the image above right, I tested the movement of the beads temporarily with M3 drill bits inserted into the bead holes, to simulate the addition of the brass rods. So far, everything is working and behaving just as I had hoped. I am not quite ready to solder the rods in place yet- from my scale diagram, I know that I will be needing fourteen of these ball and socket joints, and I intend to create these first, while I get my A3 scale diagram printed.


  1. Really amazing blog! Love the process and the artwork!

  2. Thanks very much Jon, I really appreciate it!